Thursday, February 14, 2013

‘Cupid,’ Part Two

Two years ago, I wrote a blogpost about Rob Thomas’ late, lamented TV show Cupid (1998-99).  As you may know, the series was an hour-long romantic dramedy about a man in contemporary Chicago (Jeremy Piven) who proclaimed himself to be Cupid, the Greco-Roman god of love.  On my post, I wrote how disappointed I was that the show ended before it would tell us whether or not Trevor, the protagonist with the talent for turning singles into couples, was indeed the deity or just some gifted guy suffering from a delusion — and also resolve Trevor’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with his sexy psychiatrist Claire (Paula Marshall).  I wrote:

Was Trevor really the god Cupid or a flesh-and-blood mortal — albeit one extremely skilled in affairs of the heart — with an identity-engulfing delusion (and an extensive knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology as well)? The series never let on. Given Cupid’s naturalistic depiction of contemporary Chicago, the idea of a mortal Trevor would certainly conform to the show’s ambiance. But this was also the realm of fiction, where it wouldn’t be impossible for archaic gods to assume human form and toy with our knowledge of the known world. I was certainly hoping that the show would last long enough to answer the question of Trevor’s identity in an intriguing way....  But such, alas, was not to be. 

Well, now I know.

In a 2004 article for Entertainment Weekly, series creator Thomas revealed how he would have ended the show, had it run longer.  Referring to the plot device of Trevor/Cupid needing to unite 100  couples in order to “return” to his home on Mount Olympus — all the while abstaining from romance himself to preserve his immortality — the article read:

Claire and Trevor [would have] become his [Trevor’s] lucky 100th match, with Trevor believing that he’s giving up his immortality to be with her. Eventually, she loses her practice because of the affair, and as the series ends, we’re left to decide for ourselves whether Trevor actually was Cupid. “I would have never disproved it,” Thomas says, “but I always wrote it as though he weren’t.”

I’m not sure how satisfying that would have been.  If I had stuck with the show for several seasons, only to have Trevor’s true identity still hanging in the air — without the series preserving that ambiguity in an unexpectedly clever way — I might have felt cheated.  Perhaps if such an equivocal ending had been preceded by a dream sequence, where Claire imagines that Trevor is indeed the god Cupid, the series at least exploring that possibility might have made the finale’s indeterminacy endurable.

But the truly frustrating fact is that we, Cupid’s loyal viewers, never got a chance to decide for ourselves.  We were dismayed by the ABC network abruptly pulling the plug on the series.  The cancellation of the TV show Cupid was a shot through the heart, in the bad sense, that rivaled its namesake’s legendary dexterity with the bow and arrow.

‘Cupid’s’ title sequence